From antisemite to Zionist
“…Growing up in a Muslim community in the UK I was exposed to materials condemning Israel, painting Jews as usurpers and murderers. My views were reinforced when I attended Nakba Day rallies where speakers predicted Israel’s demise.
My hate for Israel and for the Jews was fuelled by images of death and destruction, set to the backdrop of Arabic melodies about Jihad and speeches of Hizbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah or Osama Bin Laden.
There was also constant, casual antisemitism around me. My father would boast of how Adolf Hitler was a hero, his only failing being that he didn’t kill enough Jews. Even the most moderate clerics I came across refused to condemn terrorism against Israel as unjustified.
What changed? In Waterstones one day I found myself in the Israel and Palestine section. To this day I don’t know why I actually pulled it off the shelf, but I picked up a copy of Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel.
In my world view the Jews and the Americans controlled the media, so after a brief look at the back, I scoffed thinking “vile Zionist propaganda”.
But I decided to buy it, eagerly awaiting the chance to deconstruct it so I could show why Israel had no case and claim my findings as a personal victory for the Palestinian cause.
As I read Dershowitz’s systematic deconstruction of the lies I had been told, I felt a real crisis of conscience. I couldn’t disprove his arguments or find facts to respond to them with. I didn’t know what to believe. I’d blindly followed for so long, yet here I was questioning whether I had been wrong?
I decided to visit Israel to find the truth. I was confronted by synagogues, mosques and churches, by Jews and Arabs living together, by minorities playing huge parts in all areas of Israeli life, from the military to the judiciary. It was shocking and eye-opening. This wasn’t the evil Zionist Israel that I had been told about…”